News / Europe

Greeks, Riot Police Clash During Protest Over Spending Cuts

Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011
Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011

In Greece, two major unions went on strike and tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday.  It is a public protest against government plans to toughen the country’s austerity measures and save the country from financial ruin. 

More than 20,000 people took to the streets of Athens, and in Thessaloniki in northern Greece, another estimated 20,000.

They were protesting against government plans to raise taxes and cut spending.

The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but in the capital, at the Syntagma Square outside parliament, riot police fired tear gas at a group of protestors who were armed with petrol bombs.

Inside parliament, lawmakers debated the controversial new austerity package worth around $40 billion that is causing major public discontent.

One young Greek told reporters that something has to be done to reverse the government plans.

She says at 25 years old, she does not know what will happen to her future.  She says she is very angry about the situation.

But the Greek government is struggling to come up with a way to balance the country’s spiraling debt problems.

Loans to Greece from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are conditional upon this new austerity package.  And Greece is dependent on its creditors.  If the EU and the IMF do not deliver on a rescue package, Greece will have to default on its debts -- a situation that would have repercussions across the European Union.

But European governments have their own problems to worry about, not least tax-paying voters who are not happy about bailing out the Greek economy.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners in London, says EU nations have to pull together to keep the Greek economy afloat.

"If the European Central Bank cannot help the ailing situation of certain members, then what is the point of having the euro?" asked Wheeldon.  "This situation and that of other countries who have run into trouble, or may yet run into trouble, has to be dealt with in a concerted manner by the government of the rest."

Part of Wednesday’s action was organized by two Greek unions who went on a 24-hour strike and organized public marches.  Similar events have turned violent in the past; just last month, three clerks died after their bank was hit with firebombs.

And it is not just public protest that the leading Socialist Party has to worry about.  On Tuesday, a government deputy defected, narrowing the government’s majority in parliament.

Wheeldon says it is a volatile situation, but Greece and the European Union will get through it.

"We will get through [this] crisis.  If Greece is to default, or does default, which it probably will at some point, it's not going to bring the euro down and it's certainly not going to bring the EU down," Wheeldon said.

The Greek austerity package is to be voted on later this month.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid